Monday, May 4, 2009

Ensure that your disease names ("Blankety-blank" flu) are non-offensive

No matter what you do, you are bound to offend someone. Even if you remain quiet, you offend someone because you didn't speak. In essence, everything is offensive.

So you can predict the National Pork Board's reaction to some recent news. Not only are they going on a major offensive to remind people that the current pandemic is not food-borne, but they are also lobbying for a name change:

Ever since the outbreak began to dominate media headlines this week, the pork industry has been fighting the bad rep and now it's working to have the flu's name changed all together.

"The name change is very important to the pork industry," says Cindy Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Pork Board. "You cannot get this from eating pork, and it is not found in U.S. swine or in swine anywhere in the world. To label it as 'swine flu' as opposed to the more appropriate 'H1N1' really does impact pork producers."

And they're not alone. They've even persuaded an international agency to modify its name for the disease. (Of course, international agencies like to be politically correct anyway.)

[E]ven the World Health Organization will not use the term "swine flu." The organization said it would refer to the flu as Influenza A, joining the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the president, and the USDA in the name-change effort. Other groups are referring to the flu as H1N1, after the type of virus responsible for the outbreak.

An additional pig civil rights organization in:

"Attempting to connect modern farming and ranching to the current flu outbreak is a huge stretch and is completely irresponsible," says Kay Johnson Smith, Executive Vice President for the Animal Agriculture Alliance," in a statement.

Read the rest of the QSR article here, including the organizations' attack on the evil press for perpetuating the offensive term.

I predict that the civil rights groups will next target Oprah's favorite social media service. As the Los Angeles Times reports, there is a #namethatflu contest that probably won't win the hearts of the National Pork Board. Here are a few of the names:

Global Hamdemic

And one prominent Twitter user continues to use the offensive term.

We still have no reported cases of swine flu. Be vigilant, AK! Wash hands & watch for flu-like symptoms. Go to
12:53 PM Apr 30th from web

Sarah Palin

You betcha.

But if the National Pork Board, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, and similar organizations want to eliminate offensive names that denigrate their products, then they ought to go whole hog on the offensive. They shouldn't be afraid to roll around in the mud with some of the real violators, such as the estates of the late George Harrison ("Piggies") and George Orwell (Animal Farm).

Of course, vegetarian activists ("all we are saying is give peas a chance") would suggest that perhaps these organizations should stop killing pigs altogether. But then how would all the industry's employees bring home the bacon?

P.S. Of course, if the pig civil rights groups have their way, articles such as this one will need to be completely rewritten before you can access them in public libraries. A sample of the offensive text:

On the cold afternoon of February 5, 1976, an Army recruit told his drill instructor at Fort Dix that he felt tired and weak but not sick enough to see military medics or skip a big training hike.

Within 24 hours, 19-year-old Pvt. David Lewis of Ashley Falls, Mass., was dead, killed by an influenza not seen since the plague of 1918-19, which took 500,000 American lives and 20 million worldwide.

Two weeks after the recruit's death, health officials disclosed to America that something called "swine flu" had killed Lewis and hospitalized four of his fellow soldiers at the Army base in Burlington County.

The ominous name of the flu alone was enough to touch off civilian fear of an epidemic....

Only young Lewis died from the swine flu itself in 1976. But as the critics are quick to point out, hundreds of Americans were killed or seriously injured by the inoculation the government gave them to stave off the virus.

According to his sister-in-law, John Kent of President Avenue in Lawrence went to his grave in 1997 believing the shot from the government had killed his first wife, Mary, long before her time.

Among other critics are Arthur M. Silverstein, whose book, "Pure Politics and Impure Science," suggests President Gerald Ford's desire to win the office on his own, as well as the influence of America's big drug manufacturers, figured into the decision to immunize all 220 million Americans.

Still, even the partisan who first branded Ford's program a fiasco, says now that it happened because America's public health establishment identified what easily could have been a new plague and mobilized to beat it amazingly well.
blog comments powered by Disqus